CONNEAUT, OHIO HISTORY & GENEALOGY

History of
Ashtabula Co., Ohio

SOURCE: History of Ashtabula County, Ohio
Large, Moina W.
Topeka :: Historical Pub. Co.,, 1924, 1132 pgs.

Miscellaneous

CHAPTER XLI.

CHEESE INDUSTRY - GREAT INDUSTRY IN GLASS HOUSES - HORSES AND HORSEMEN - ASHTABULA COUNTY TELEGRAPH COMPANY - RECLAMATION OF MARSH - NATURAL GAS - ANTI SLAVERY ACTIVITIES - FAIRS - ASHTABULA COUNTY SOCIETY - INDUSTRIAL SURVEY - STATISTICS

     Cheese Industry. - From a perusal of the sketches of the different towns of Ashtabula County, it is easy to conclude that one of the principal industries of the early years, and up to a few years ago, was cheese making.  This was a great dairy county in the middle and latter years of the last century.  Nearly every settlement had its cheese factory, and the product was turned out by the ton and this county was famed afar for the quantity of quality of its cheese.  As in the present day the leading hotels of New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Boston, Buffalo and many other cities serve Ashtabula grown cucumbers, lettuce, mushrooms, tomatoes and other delicacies at any season of the year, so in the earlier years one might be almost as certain of having Ashtabula County cheese served with his pie at such places. The making of cheese became a science, and makers of this county were considered authority on methods and curing. The layman can not appreciate the different varieties that could be turned out. At one time West Andover boasted ownership of the largest cheese factory in the world with the largest annual production, and it was quite fitting, therefore, that this place should turn out the largest cheese ever made—of which the following account is given by Charles S. Denslow, of Saybrook, retired New York Central engineer, who had a hand in the making:
      "A derisive epithet of modern slang language is 'You Big Cheese', which really is senseless in its application, but time was when that very phrase meant something. To me it recalls the Philadelphia Centennial demonstration in celebration of the one-hundredth anniversary of the independence of this great country of ours. That was in 1876, and was, up to that time, the greatest exhibition ever held. One of the sights at which millions of visitors marveled at this great exhibit was the 'Big Cheese from Ashtabula County, Ohio', and (also in modern parlance) it was 'Some Cheese'. After so many years it is not easy to remember all the details of the making, and I am not certain as to what factory turned it out. Some say it was made at West Williamsfield; others at West Andover. J. J. Lobdell of Ashtabula says he recalls distinctly that he was a lad playing around the factory at West Andover and that it was manufactured there, as he can remember the interest he felt in the work. I presume he is right, but is really immaterial what individual factory it was, just that it was made in Ashtabula County, the commonwealth that has always been noted for doing big things. I have never heard the claim that it was the largest piece of food of the kind ever made disputed. The exact weight was 2,300 pounds. No one factory could have produced such a product alone, and five factories participated in the work. These were at West Andover, Cherry Valley, Wayne, Pierpont and Mineral Springs (Greene). Dorset was to have been included in the honor, but when their curd was prepared it was found to be not of the necessary consistency. The contract with these factories was to furnish 'firm-cheese' curd, each to contribute one day's output. The late J. J. Phillips of Orwell was the instigator of the project, and everybody saw at once the advantage as an advertisement for this county. It was figured that the cheese could be sold for an amount sufficient to cover the expense of making the exhibit. P. J. Norton, of Ashtabula, and I were at that time employed in the Mineral Springs factory and helped to make the curd furnished by that institution. A mammoth mold had to be specially made for the big cheese and several extra men employed, and when the mammoth was finished it was too large to go through the door of a box-car and it was loaded into a flat-car and a tent-house erected over it. Three men, whose names I am unable to learn at this time, accompanied the exhibit to Philadelphia, living in the tent en route, and after its arrival one man was on watch at all times, as long as it lasted. Toward the close of the Centennial Exposition the cheese was cut and sold from the car to the visitors in quantities to suit. In a very short time it was all disposed of and the men returned home with the cash.
     A little idea of the process of making cheese is given by J. J. Lobdell, of Ashtabula, who served an apprenticeship in the West Andover factory when a boy. "The largest number of cheeses turned out from the West Andover factory", said Mr. Lobdell, "was 104, and I want to say the force worked lively. The average weight was from 47 to 49 pounds, so that day's output amounted to about 2½ tons. The usual number was about 90 daily. As fast as they were taken out of the moulds they were hustled to the dry-house, which had shelves that would hold a week's accumulation, when necessary. The next operation got us up and at work at 4 o'clock in the morning to begin the work of 'rubbing', each cheese having to be rubbed on both sides daily till properly dried for market."
     W. Frank McClure, of Chicago, who was for several years an Ashtabula "feature" writer, in one of his stories on the cheese industry in Ashtabula County, written in the early years of the present century, gave the following information:
     "The average modern cheese factory daily takes care of the milk from a thousand cows. Such a factory is furnished its entire supply by perhaps 100 farmers. The output of a dairy of 1,000 cows is about 25,000 pounds of milk each day. There was a time when the farmers made the curd at home and took it to the factory for the final process, but all the work is now done at the factories. The force of men required to gather the milk and bring it to the factory was larger than that at the factory. The milk, as it reaches the factory, is weighed and the producer credited therewith, then it is poured into the vats. The milk received at night stands in the vats till morning, when it has become slightly sour. The morning's milk is poured into the vat with the other and this combination has been found to be conducive to the best cheese. Within the vat is a compartment into which, during the operation of cheese making, hot water from the boiler, at a temperature of 86 degrees, is poured and allowed to stand for 45 minutes, scalding the milk. For the purpose of inducing coagulation three ounces of rennet are put into the milk for each thousand pounds. Rennet is a liquid obtained from a calf's stomach. A mechanical agitator is used to stir the milk and assist in the coagulation process. A curd knife, also mechanical, cuts the curd and liberates the whey. When the curd is sufficiently sour, the whey is drawn off. To determine when the curd is right, bits of it are applied to a hot iron. If it adheres quickly it is sour. Taken from the vats, the curd is placed in presses. The presses are telescopic and round devices, having an inner diameter equal to that of a finished cheese. The sides or hoops of the presses are raised to their full height and filled with curd, cheese-capping being placed within the presses before filling. Screws are then applied and the operation of pressing begins. When the cheese has been compressed to the regulation size, it is taken out and earned to the dry-house for the final curing.
     "The by-product of cheese is an important part of the business, everything being utilized. The whey is converted into sugar of milk, with another by-produce called casein, which latter is fed to a drove of hogs that are kept at all factories, because it costs nothing to feed them. An ordinary factory will fatten 50 hogs for market without extra expense. The liquid sugar of milk is drawn off into tubs and in the course of time becomes crystalized, when it is carted to a refinery to be worked over, after which it is ground into powder and is ready for the market. The ordinary factory will produce from 200 to 500 pounds of these crystals daily."
     Austinburg also gained fame as a cheese-producing town. During the year ending June 1, 1850, 489,000 pounds were made in that town. In that output was included one cheese that weighed 1,720 pounds, which was made from one day's milk of 600 cows. It was displayed at the annual exhibition of the American Institute, in New York City, where it took first prize and was bought by the proprietor of a hotel in Philadelphia, where it was served to the patrons. Another great cheese was made in this county and exhibited at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Ashtabula County cheese was always on exhibition at the Ohio State Fair, and invariably brought home prizes. During the mid-century years a great amount of cheese was exported from this county to Europe.
     It is noted, in perusing a county paper published in 1850, that the first premium for cheese awarded at the Ohio State Fair that year was on a 130-pounder which was at the time three years old, exhibited by A. Krum, of Cherry Valley. In the year 1868 Ashtabula County's output of cheese was 2,007,782 pounds.
     The rapidly increasing demand for milk for home consumption gradually sounded the death knell of the cheese-making industry in this section. The rapid growth of surrounding cities created a great problem as to how to furnish the needed supply of milk and the only answer was to go out into the country. Organizations were formed in cities which sent men out into all rural sections for more than a hundred miles to contract with farmers for their dairy product, offering, them much better pay than they could get from the cheese factories. There could be but one result. Special trains were run on the railroads into the great centers of population, twice a day, to bring in the milk from a great radius. From cheese making the tide turned to the raw milk and cream, and large creameries displaced the factories. The reverting of the milk to the large cities resulted in a steady raise in the price and the consumer, of course, "paid the fiddler". So great has become the traffic in milk that special tank cars have been constructed for conveying it, and are so built that the lacteal fluid will stay sweet and marketable for several days after it has left the cow. The tanks are constructed on the same plan as a thermos bottle and are used for nothing but the transportation of milk. Dorset, in this county, claims to have today the largest milk receiving station in the world. The Reich Co., of Pittsburgh, owns the plant, and the entire output is shipped to Chicago by fast freight. Milk produced in Ashtabula in the afternoon is served-to patrons on milk routes in Chicago next day. Dorset is located in a splendid dairy territory and the modern good roads and automobiles are great factors in expeditious handling of the milk.
     In this connection it is timely to mention that the dairy industry in Ashtabula County has been revolutionized through the activities of the Farm Bureau, an organization given more extensive mention elsewhere. The following figures give the status of the dairying industry in Ashtabula County at the present time, according to statistics of the Farm Bureau: Pounds of butter-fat sold, 78,504; pounds of milk sold, 70,239,106; pounds of butter-fat in milk, on 3½ per cent basis, 2,107,173; gain on butter-fat in milk at 5 cents a pound, $122,918.40; gain on butter-fat sold as butter-fat, $3,925.20, making a total gain on milk and butter-fat of $126,843.60.
    
     Great Industry in Glass Houses
.—(By Charles H. Gallup, President Ashtabula Lettuce Growers' Association.) Ashtabula County is one of the foremost counties in the United States in the production of vegetables under glass. It is estimated that there are approximately 50 acres covered by these steam-heated houses, in addition to which there are numerous extensive mushroom pits.
     The modern industry dates back nearly forty years to a time when Frank Luce greatly enlarged his plant in Ashtabula. Employed by Mr. Luce was C. W. Hopkins, who had previously been in partnership with E. A. Adams, operating the "Griswold Gardens" in that city. In 1892 Mr. Hopkins and E. A. Dunbar, then a fruit grower, built a modern plant in Saybrook, just west of Ashtabula, which many consider the start of the real boom in the business.
     About the year 1897 R. W. Griswold, Jr., entered into a partnership with his aunt, Fanny Boalt, and started a business that has resulted in two plants, the present enormous business establishments of Mr. Griswold and the very large corporation known as the Griswold Greenhouse Company. These plants are grouped at the west end of Ashtabula and extend over the line into Saybrook. The Griswold Greenhouse Company came into existence in 1906 when J. H. Rice took over Mr. Griswold's interests in the partnership and the latter embarked in the business as an individual. In his work Mr. Griswold has been so phenomenally successful that he is considered by many the most successful grower of vegetables under glass in the United States. He developed a system of steam-cooking the soil, and a type of greenhouse, both of which are extensively used throughout the country.
     In 1906 the Griswold Greenhouse Company came into existence when J. H. Rice took over Mr. Griswold's interest in the partnership, and assumed management of the business. Several years later Mr. Rice established the J. H. Rice Company, which is now a floral concern known as the Sunnyside Nurseries, also located in Saybrook Township.
     In my opinion the "big man" of the industry in Ashtabula County is E. A. Dunbar, who learned the business from his partner and in 1906 organized the Ashtabula Lettuce Growers Association, which is still in a flourishing condition and considered the oldest and most successful organization in the country for the co-operative packing and sale of high-grade vegetables. Mr. Dunbar has been secretary and sales manager of the company ever since it was organized. The association now has a large and modern packing house on the Electric Package line just west of Ashtabula, where tomatoes, cucumbers and mushrooms are carefully graded and packed under the most sanitary conditions and the quality is uniform and guaranteed, so that Ashtabula products bring the highest market prices in all the large cities from Chicago to Boston, which can readily be supplied by these products in car lots.
     While the main product used to be lettuce, all the successful growers have almost entirely abandoned lettuce and are growing fall tomatoes instead. Lettuce, which used to be the standby, is now subordinate to cucumbers, tomatoes and mushrooms. Rhubarb and asparagus are also grown in some plants.
     Besides his work in the association Mr. Dunbar is one of the leading figures in the Vegetable Growers' Association of America, which he was instrumental in forming, in Cleveland, in 1908, and which held a monster convention in Ashtabula the next year and has met yearly ever since. Mr. Dunbar was the first president and has been reelected to that office several times since.
     About the time that Luce, Dunbar & Hopkins and R. W. Griswold were building modern plants, E. A. Adams & Sons started their plant on Benefit street, which has grown to be one of the large and successful establishments of the city.
     In 1906 Charles H. Gallup resigned a fine position with the Cincinnati Post and came to his former home in Ashtabula to join his brother, E. P. Gallup, in what is today the large and successful business of the Gallup Brothers that has plants on Woodman avenue, Ashtabula, and Sanborn road, Saybrook.
     I consider John Reublin, who has a fine plant on McNutt avenue, Saybrook, the most remarkably developed greenhouse man in the entire community. He has a record of "pricking out" 22,000 little lettuce plants, two inches apart each way, in a day. He can set more lettuce, pack more cucumbers and do more of any class of greenhouse work in a day than any man I ever heard of. While some of us use a gang of five men to steam-cook our soil, he has devised a method whereby he can do the whole operation by his own labor. Mr. Reublin was a leading plant-man for Dunbar & Hopkins before he went into business for himself.
     Walter Tickner, about fifteen years ago, established the plant now owned by Mr. Reublin. He now owns a much larger one on the North Bend road in Saybrook. His brother, Archie, for many years foreman for Gallup Brothers, formed a partnership with P. C. Remick and they now have a large modern plant near Samuel street, Ashtabula. Harry Tickner conducts a plant in Saybrook and his brother one on Nathan street, Ashtabula.
     Some 40 years ago Charles Bliss conducted a combined floral and vegetable greenhouse on what is now Grove avenue, in Ashtabula.
     Frank Luce, who is known as the "daddy" of the greenhouse business in Ashtabula, has six sons, three of whom are in the business. Sherman is in partnership with his father; Robert has a plant on Woodman avenue and has gained fame as a mushroom grower; Clarence had a plant on West street, which formerly raised vegetables (now devoted to flowers).
     Something like 20 years ago F. C. Bail had a large vegetable greenhouse plant on Bunker Hill, in Ashtabula. It passed to other hands and is now devoted to the culture of flowers, and Mr. Bail has another plant at his home.
     John Regner left Gallup Brothers and built a plant on the South Ridge in Saybrook which is now owned by Westcott & Blake, formerly with the Dunbar-Hopkins Company.
     While the Messrs. Dunbar and Hopkins are still active in the business, many of the details are taken care of by their sons, Robert Dunbar and Alden Hopkins, both joint stockholders with their father.
     The Ashtabula Lettuce and Vegetable Company has a large plant south of Ashtabula, which is managed by Mr. Frank Davenny.
     Fred Chapman & Sons have a large greenhouse plant in Geneva, and truck most of their output to the Cleveland market. There is a plant near the fair grounds in Jefferson, which changes management frequently. Hall Brothers have a small but successful establishment at Saybrook Center. Harry Phelps is conducting a large plant on Prospect street in Ashtabula. Charles E. Belden & Son own one on Nathan street. Henry Swedenborg recently erected a greenhouse on Carpenter road, Saybrook, and Ray Brothers one in East Ashtabula.
     No other city in the country disputes the supremacy of Ashtabula in this line, excepting, possibly, Toledo, in which city there is one glass roof covering ten acres.

     Horses and Horsemen.—(By John L. Hervey.) The pioneers who settled the Western Reserve were, many of them, accustomed to good horses and, in particular, imbued with the New England love for fast trotters, and as the county developed and settled up and smooth, level roads were constructed it became widely noted for its splendid driving horses, and, in due time, its trotting race horses. Harness racing became the chief form of^entertainment almost from the beginning of the county fairs at Jefferson, about three-quarters of a century ago, and still remains so. The first race track built on the fair grounds was but a third of a mile in size, and a few years ago traces of it were still discernable. The present half-mile track dates back about 60 years, but has been reconstructed and improved several times. Many horses of national fame have appeared over it. The large and substantial grandstand was erected about 1890 and was later enlarged and improved. In the early days of the fairs there were no accommodations for seating the spectators; then there were temporary bleachers erected each season and the demand for something better ultimately led to construction of something better.
     The foundation stock of the fine and fast horses of Ashtabula County were the animals of Morgan and Messenger families, brought in from New England and New York, and of the St. Lawrence (Canadian) strain, while a good deal of thoroughbred (running) blood was also introduced. The first large stock farm for the breeding of trotters in the county was "Maplewood", near Jefferson, established by the late Maj. H. P. Wade, in 1874. Shortly afterward the late R. W. Davis established the Pymatuning Valley Stock Farm at West Williamsfield. Major Wade went to Orange County, New York, and purchased there the stallion New York 524, by Hambletonian 10, and other animals for breeding purposes; while Mr. Davis went to Kentucky and bought the stallion Atlantic, by Almont 33. The rivalry in the middle '80s between Major Wade's stallion Reveille 2:21¾, by New York, and Mr. Davis' horse Atlantic was the most stirring chapter in the horse history of the county. Both were grand horses and the county was about equally divided between their admirers. Both also proved very successful sires, but Atlantic, which trotted to a record of 2:21, was sold while still a young horse by Mr. Davis and soon afterward was exported to Italy, where he made a great reputation.
     Beside Reveille and New York Major also bred and owned the stallion Gold Leaf 2:161/£, a splendid race horse and successful sire, as well as many other fast trotters that raced on the Grand Circuit and elsewhere.
     After selling Atlantic Mr. Davis bought Sprague Pilot 2:24, St. Lookout 2:26, and other good horses, with which he had much success.
     Third in prominence among the horsemen of the county was the late George W. Smith, of Jefferson, the most gifted trainer of colts ever resident in this county and the breeder and owner of Oakleaf 2:28, Oakbourne 2:271/2, Clover Leaf 2:211¼, and many other good ones.
     The Eagleville Stock Farm of J. R. Stone at Eagleville was for a number of years an important establishment. Mr. Stone bred Franklin 2:10¼, by Gold Leaf, dam Stella A., by New York, a superb race horse that, with Maud C. 2:10¼, by Binderton, dam Nita, by Atlantic, bred by L. M. Cornwell, of Jefferson, were the two fastest trotters ever bred in the county.
     Another breeding farm that for a long while attracted the attention of horsemen was the Harrington Stock Farm at Rock Creek, where Binderton and the pacing stallion Conway 2:18¾ were owned. At Rock Creek and also at Orwell there were half-mile tracks where many races were held in former years, but never on a pretentious scale.
There was also much interest in horseflesh in and about Andover, and the track built there was one of the first ever laid out in the county. Here racing was held as early as in the Civil War period of the '60s. At West Andover were bred the two most noted pacers ever produced in the county, the own brother and sister Hal B. 2:04½ and Fanny Dillard 2:03¾, by Hal Dillard 2:04¾, whose breeder was the late Martin McNulty. Both these horses attained national reputation and Hal B., after retiring from the turf, became one of America's foremost sires of pacers. He is still living at West Williamsfield, and owned by C. A. Barber, aged about thirty years. The off-spring of Hal B. have won over $250,000 in stakes and purses on American race tracks in all parts of the country.
     A very noted trotting stallion once owned in Ashtabula County was Allie Wilkes 2:15, by Red Wilkes, bred in Kentucky and brought to this county by Byron E. Brown, of New Lyme. Many of the offspring of Allie Wilkes were bred and developed in the county and became successful race horses, or notable fancy show horses.
     Among other horsemen and horses of the county worthy of mention were, or are E. S. Phelps, of Austinburg, breeder and owner of numerous good trotters, including Octavia 2:11½, by Gold Leaf; F. H. Woodbury, of Jefferson, who bred the pacing mare Sufreet 2:06¼, and others with fast records; W. M. Kelsey, of Dodgeville, who bred the pacing stallion Baron A. 2:04½, etc., etc.
     The most widely successful trainer and driver of trotters and pacers native of the county is Volney F. French, who was born in West Andover and has been identified with many noted stock farms and racing stables and driven many horses to fast records. The late George Smith, above mentioned, was the most successful developer of fast colts that the county ever boasted. At present George Hunter, born in Jefferson, is considered one of Ohio's most promising young reinsmen.
     At present racing occurs only at Jefferson at the annual county fairs, and in 1924 the record for that track was set at 2:09^ by Hazel Kuestner. An excellent half-mile track was built at Ashtabula in 1890, beneath the brow of Bunker Hill, and there, for a number of years, high-class meetings were held, but the growth of the city caused it to be dismantled and the plot cut up into building lots over a decade ago.
     In closing this brief sketch it may be noted that it was in Ashtabula in 1880 that there died a horse that was among the most influential in building up the reputation of the county as a producer of fine and fast drivers and race horses in "early days", namely, Blazing Star. He was foaled in 1853 and raised just over the county line, at Gustavus.
(By the Editor.) Among the lesser lights that were well known in the county in their day, may be briefly mentioned Major, owned by Marsena V. Miller, of New Lyme, in 1858; Comet, a Green Mountain Morgan owned by E. D. Hyde, of Harpersfield, and William Simons, Esq., of Dorset; Roanoke, owned by Lewis Austin of Austinburg; William Webber, of Rock Creek, owned Young Blackhawk; Samuel Bishop, of New Lyme, had Farmer's Delight, of English descent; Charles Stanhope, of Williamsfield, owned Dan, the Coney Island horse of the 2:40 class, by Perew's Hamiltonians; C. S. Case, of Kinsman, boasted Kinsman Boy, by Dave Hill, 2:20 class; he also owned the inbred Hamiltonian stallion Valliant, 2:40; Ashtabula, owned by M. H. Haskell, of Ashtabula, was another high stepper, and the last four horses named were out in the circuit races in the late '70s.
     Little Jake, owned by Kelsey & Field, was in the 2:30 class, but had shown her heels in a 2:231/2 clip. Nelson Humphrey's Prince Albert was quite a figure as either pacer or trotter, and Albert Field's Loafer was not what his name implied when he got on the track. In '77 Dr. P. E. Hall, of Ashtabula, had a brown filly, Lady Grace, that was conceded to be one of the handsomest yearlings in this section; also a black gelding, Douglass, that was some stepper. In later years there were others, prominent among which was Dr. D. E. Kelley's stallion Russell B. 2:14½, which made 2:08¾ mark in his day. Allie Wilkes, mentioned in Mr. Hervey's sketch, was bought by Stanhope Brothers in 1887 for $2,000 and sold by them in 1890 to W. C. McCamy, Lexington, Ky., for $20,000.

     Ashtabula County Telegraph Company.—Turning back into the opening of the decade of the '80s, we find a home-grown and home-owned system of communication which developed into a rather expansive organization that was eventually known as the Ashtabula County Telegraph Company. Its inception was in a short, improvised circuit constructed between the home of one of the Seymour families in Plymouth and A. C. Stevens' residence in Sheffield, a distance of several miles. Members of both families took up the study of telegraphy, bought the necessary instruments and equipment and many pleasant hours were spent in visiting over the wire by the dot-and-dash language. Then a similar line was built between the two Kingsvilles, which was eventually extended to Kelloggsville and Sheffield, connecting with the Plymouth line, that was extended to Ashtabula and thence south to Jefferson and Rock Creek. Numerous residences along the line were "connected up" and the project developed into a veritable mill for turning out telegraph operators. The fever spread to Conneaut, to which an extension was made, and the Ashtabula County Telegraph Company was incorporated and organized with S. J. Smith of Conneaut president; C. W. Hall, treasurer; J. R. Cushing, secretary, and W. A. Brewer, superintendent and general manager. There had been a previous unofficial organization of which A. C. Stevens, of Sheffield, was president.  The Western Union Telegraph Company at that time was the only commercial line in this section and it only hit the towns through which railroads ran. The Ashtabula County Telegraph Company therefore stood in a good position to work in conjunction with the regular company and an arrangement was made whereby it became a recognized auxiliary. A schedule of rates was made and the Western Union tariff book published these rates in connection with their own and made the additional charges. Telegrams for the interior points touched by the local company were relayed at Ashtabula and the A. C. T. Companys receipts amounted to enough to cover the upkeep of the line until the telephone came into general use, when the local telegraph company went the way that the interurban trolley lines are now going, under pursuit of the auto busses.

     Reclamation of Marsh.—The reclamation and conversion of the "Big Swamp" was one of the great achievements of Ashtabula County history. This section of over 600 acres of waste land existed as such far back into the years before the advent of the white man and for many years after his coming it was a thorn in the flesh of progress, as it lay in the direct course of travel between Ashtabula and the county seat, which was the most convenient route for all who resided in the northernmost townships of the county. It was many years before the road, which lay directly across this waste, could be made stable and at certain times of the year it was impassible.
     The account of how this acreage of no-good land was reclaimed and converted into one of the largest and best farms in the county is obtained from Russell C. Humphrey, whose father, the late William Humphrey, was the man who conceived the idea that such a change could be brought about. Mr. Humphrey said, when approached on the subject:
     "My father was one of the early day business men of Ashtabula and he had a great amount of business that necessitated frequent trips to Jefferson. The "Big Marsh" was always an eyesore to him and while passing through it one day when the conditions were particularly bad he resolved that he would use his influence toward an effort to do away with the nuisance. He broached the subject to others and to the county commissioners, but nobody thought it possible to drain it, much less to make anything of it. Father was not to be beaten, though, so he decided he would try and purchase the old hole, which belonged to the late E. C. Hubbard, who had moved to Ashtabula from Conneaut a few years before. Mr. Hubbard did not consider his marsh land very valuable as he finally traded it to father, 640 acres, for a horse that cost father $25 and some bottom land along the Ashtabula River. That was in 1864. The next move was to devise the best means by which to accomplish the draining of the swamp. A survey of its boundaries disclosed that the only means of drainage was through a little stream called Coffee Creek, so named from the color of its water from the swamp, which resembled coffee. This creek flowed into Grand River.
     "The swamp is in Plymouth Township, six miles back from Lake Erie, and its altitude is 325 feet above the lake level. These facts had been ascertained in advance, and my father had satisfied himself that the drainage problem would not be a big one before he started out to acquire the property. The survey of the situation showed that it would be necessary to dig a ditch four miles long, as the small creek outlet never carried off very much water, only such as would be above a certain level, consequently there was constantly hundreds of acres of sluggish water. These facts were laid before the county commissioners again, and they agreed to dig half of the ditch which, toward the outlet, had to go down 12 feet. When it came to actual work it was discovered that what had been at one time the natural outlet of the swamp water had been most effectively dammed by beavers. The workmen cut through great masses of limbs of trees that had lain in the water perhaps for centuries that were still solid.
     "Before being drained there was always a heavy moss floating over the surface of the swamp and there was a general idea that there was no solid bottom. Here and there were the knowls indicating homes of the beavers and the place had acquired from them the name of "Beaver Meadows". There were lots of huckleberries and snakes, among the latter being frequent rattlers.
     "The work of draining proved very successful, and when the water had been drawn off and the mass of moss that had settled to the bottom had been cleared or burned away, it was discovered that the bottom contained the trunks of thousands of large trees that had once constituted a towering forest so long before that no person living could remember seeing them standing. The beavers had felled the trees and stripped the branches for use in damming the water till its surface constituted a good-sized inland lake that made them a permanent home, till the progressive white man came along and broke it up. The work of clearing the land was almost equal to that of clearing the original forest. The efforts for reclamation were begun more than a half-century ago and the job was not fully accomplished until within the past 20 years. The reward, however, was great, for the land is exceptionally fertile and produces wonderful crops."
     Most of this reclaimed land is still owned by the Humphreys. R. C. Humphrey and three sons have separate homes on and near the once considered worthless space.

     Natural Gas.—Along in the years just before and after the beginning of the present century there was great activity in the line of prospecting for gas. It started with an oil boom that hit this section of the country and every community for miles around began drilling for oil. Many thousands of dollars were expended in finding "dry" holes, but, in the end, the effort brought its reward in developing of a gas vein that seemed to underlie pretty much all of the northern section of the county.
     There seemed to be gas everywhere and many individuals put down their own wells and had ample to supply all their individual needs for a score of years. What was known as the "Jefferson" field appeared to be the most productive locality, together with adjoining townships. Companies were organized with view to developing and commercializing the product which Mother Earth seemed to be so willing to furnish, and while many lost, some speculators were on the winning side. Simultaneously, great wells came in in Clarion County, Pa., and in 1901, or early in 1902, The Northeastern Oil & Gas Company was formed with a view to furnishing gas for this territory, and a supply line was laid from the Clarion field to Ashtabula, and branched east and west, and consumers had all the gas needed at an initial cost of 25 cents per thousand. Gas from numerous county wells was added to the supply from time to time as needed, but gradually the supply diminished and eventually became exhausted, as was also the patience of the consumers.
     The Ashtabula Gas Company then made an arrangement with a concern in Fairport for furnishing manufactured gas for Ashtabula city. This entailed an enormous preliminary expense, as it was necessary to lay a pipeline from Fairport to Ashtabula, but this was accomplished and the change in fuel took place in the summer of 1924. The service of the Fairport Gas was also extended to other county towns that had come to the end of things with Natures supply.

     Anti-Slavery Activities.—The Anti-Slavery Society of Ashtabula County was organized in Ashtabula on May 27, 1834. At the organization meeting the following officers were elected: Amos Fisk, president; O. K. Hawley, vice-president; Henry Cowles, corresponding secretary; A. E. Austin, recording secretary; L. Bissell, treasurer; Elijah Coleman, William Hubbard, Jacob Bailey, Eliphalet Austin, Jr., and G. W. St. John, managers. The preamble of the organization declared all men created free and equal, and its avowed object was the utter extinction of slavery by immediate emancipation of the salves. It was not, however, intended that the slaves would be turned loose to roam as vagabonds and aliens, nor that they should be invested with political rights and privileges, but that they shall be employed as laborers and fairly compensated and protected.
     The first annual meeting of the society was held in Austinburg on July 4, 1834, and during the subsequent years the membership became very large, and this county was well minded to support the policies advocated by and the cause of John Brown, when he decided to make it his place of assemblage of his followers, in preparation for the launching of the attack on Harper's Ferry, which resulted so disastrously for him and his followers.
     "On Jan. 10, 1839, Senator B. F. Wade presented a petition from citizens of Ashtabula County for a repeal of all laws making distinction between persons on account of color; also two other petitions from the same county on the subject of slavery in the District of Columbia." (Ashtabula Sentinel.)
     Probably no other commonwealth in the whole North took an individual part so conspicuous as that of Ashtabula County, and it was to this county, the home of their champions Benjamin F. Wade and Joshua R. Giddings, and the last resort of the greatest abolitionists of them all, John Brown, that the fugitive slaves who were so successful as to get across the Ohio River, resorted as their asylum and refuge, where they knew they would be well cared for and helped on their way out of the country.
     The attitude of the residents of this county who were in sympathy with the great cause of freedom brought about the institution of the great "Underground Railroad", by which the runaway negroes were smuggled through this section to the shore of Lake Erie, where they were put aboard of vessels that conveyed them across to Canada, where they could be free and safe from capture and return to their former owners.
     The "Underground Railroad" was a secret method of conveyance which was made necessary because of the fact that there were many persons in this section who were not in sympathy with the anti-slavery spirit, and who, believing that slaves were lawful chattels, would lend their assistance to the apprehension of the runaways whenever they could do so.
     This veiled transportation route extended from Wheeling, W. Va., to Ashtabula Harbor and all along the way, at convenient intervals, were established "depots" or "stations" of the "railroad", the same being homes of sympathetic people who were enlisted on the side of the "Antis" and had expressed their willingness to aid in the cause of the black man.
      Under cover of darkness, to avoid the eyes of those who were unfriendly to the cause, the fugitives would be smuggled from one "station" to the next on the route toward the lake. Certain men were designated to act as "conductors" and there was a code of signs and signals known only to those of the "inner circle", whereby the presence of a "passenger" was made known, and thus his transportation was accomplished, usually with success.
     These "stations" are landmarks today that are pointed out to sightseers and strangers. At the northern terminal of the line, Ashtabula, there were several "stations" in the homes of some of the most prominent people. This was necessary because of the fact that it was sometimes necessary for them to remain here several days before passage could be secured for them to the other side of the lake. In some of these houses are still existing evidences of the secret apartments set off for the occupancy of the runaways during their enforced sojourn. Some were in the attic, others in the cellar—anywhere where they would not be readily detected in case a search was made by Government authorities. The friends of the cause were pledged to aid the slaves who came their way, in every possible manner and especially to see that they were clothed and fed. It seemed to be good policy to carry on the work of the society secretly, because of the individual unpleasantness that would result from open action. Many men and families were instrumental in the work who were not even suspected of their connection by their neighbors who were on the other side. Open activities would very soon have disclosed the methods pursued and would have thus made it impossible to accomplish the desired good.
     The joy of the slaves, upon finding themselves in Canada, where they knew they were safe from any chance to be captured and taken back to bondage, was implied by the following lines of a song that was well known and well sung in those days:
"I stand as a free man, upon the northern banks of Lake Erie's freshwater sea, And it fills my very soul to behold the billows roll, and to think of the slaves I am free. Oh Master, I pray thee, don't come after me, for I can not be your slave any more. I am free from tyrant laws—free from neath the lion's claws, and he'll growl if you come near the shore." That the rescued were duly grateful for all that was done for them was made evident in many ways. Illustrative of this fact might be considered the following incident related by the late Rev. Charles Shipman, of Girard, Pa., who was known as the "marrying parson", and who traveled all over this section when called upon for matrimonial services. (Incidentally it is mentioned that he officiated at the wedding of the parents of the author of this work, and also at that of the author, many years subsequently) :
     "I was on my way to marry a couple south of Ashtabula," said Rev. Shipman, "and was waiting at the Lake Shore depot in Ashtabula, between trains. Becoming hungry, I stepped into the restaurant, adjacent to the waiting-room, for a lunch. The proprietor of the restaurant appeared to take my order, but upon seeing his customer he came forward with both hands extended, crying 'My God, is it you?' I was surprised at first by the strange greeting, but he quickly reminded me of the time, years before, when I had 'conducted' him over a goodly portion of the 'Underground Railroad', in his escape from bondage."
     That colored man was John Leek, whom many residents of today remember as a good citizen. The Lake Shore Railway Company constructed the restaurant building that stood just east of the old depot for many years, and Mr. Leek leased it for the accommodation of the traveling public. In those days there was a stop of "ten minutes for refreshments" at intervals along the railroads. Mr. Leek's oldest son, Charles, was proprietor of Leek's Orchestra, which was in great demand for many years. He was also in charge of the telegraph office at the Lake Shore depot, and had the distinction of being the first colored man in the country who mastered the art of telegraphy.
     In the early years there was another organization here known as the Colonization Society, which was in sympathy with the Anti-Slavery Society, but not in whole accord with all of its methods. Consequently their activities were carried on separately, like two church denominations, both having the same object, but different ways of attaining it.
Illustrative of the intense earnestness of the advocates of freedom for all mankind was the action at a meeting held in Hartsgrove in 1850, an account of which is found in the file copy of the Ashtabula Sentinel of Dec. 21 that year. Resolutions adopted at that meeting are given, and among them were the following:
     "Resolved: That we hold the Fugitive Slave law in utter contempt, as being no law, and pledge ourselves to despise the conduct of the makers of it, for their utter destitution of principal, as well as for their reckless violation of the Constitution of the United States, which they were sworn to support.
     "Resolved: That sooner than submit to such odious laws, we will see the Union dissolved; sooner than see slavery perpetual, we would see war; and sooner than be slaves, we will fight.
     "Resolved, That Herod made a law in regard to male children; King Darius made a law in regard to Daniel; Duke George made a law in reference to Luther; John Bull made a law in reference to the American colonies; and, meanest of all, Congress made a law in reference to fugitive slaves; a law to strip us of our humanity, to divest us of all claim to Christianity and self-respect, and herd us with blood hounds and men stealers, upon penalty of reducing our children to starvation and nakedness. Cursed be the Law!
     "Resolved: That we will not aid in catching the fugitive, but will feed and protect him with all the means within our power, and that we pledge our sympathy and property for the relief of any person in our midst who may suffer any penalties for an honorable opposition or a failure to comply with the requirements of this law."
     In another part of the same issue of the Sentinel we read: "The underground railroad through this section of the state is doing a fair business nowadays. Two fine looking 'chattels' fresh from 'Old Virginia', passed up the fourth range of this township last week, en route for Canada. We learn that they met with no difficulty in finding food, shelter and necessary assistance in their course. The voice of our people is 'Constitution or no Constitution, law or no law, no fugitive slave can be taken from the soil of Ashtabula County back to slavery'. If any one doubts that this is the real sentiment, they can test it."

     Fairs.—Time was when all large towns of the county had their own fair associations of one sort or another and fair grounds of their own for annual exhibitions. In Jefferson, the Ashtabula County Agricultural Society held its first fair in 1846 or '47, and is today the only surviving organization of that nature in the county.
     The Ashtabula Township Fair Association was organized in the late '50s and held annual meetings for a dozen or so years. The fair grounds were in the southern section of the village that is now entirely built up with residences. The Ashtabula Farmers 'and Mechanics' Association was organized in 1857 and was a live organization for a number of years, having annual exhibits.
     The Andover Union Agricultural Society, organized in or about 1865, thrived for some years.
     The Orwell Agricultural Society furnished an annual attraction for that and surrounding towns for a number of years from 1857. That organization also featured a horse fair every year.
     The Conneaut Agricultural Society, formed in 1853, held successful exhibitions annually for about a quarter of a century. One of the old buildings still stands on the former site of the fair grounds in the western section of the city.

     Ashtabula County Society of Cleveland.—One of the social organizations that are prominent in the city of Cleveland is the "Ashtabula County Society of Cleveland", which today has a membership of some 4,000, and which, for its loyalty and constant devotion to the old home county, is truly entitled to a place in the annals of such environs.
     The writer is indebted to Clarence E. Richardson, a past president and enthusiastic member of that organization, for the following sketch:
     "The founders of this society and the incentive for these so-called "home-comings" were Brothers E. J. Pinney, E. E. Northway, Thomas Covert, Minor G. Norton, J. C. Talcott, George H. Eddy, D. L. Maltby and A. A. White. They, with their families, constituted a party of former Ashtabula County residents then making their homes in Cleveland who held a picnic in Wade Park one day in the summer of 1892.
"The reunion of these old friends, who had kept track of each other since the old days 'at home', was a most delightful occasion and it was suggested that the happy day should be repeated and that they invite other former Ashtabula County residents to join them on the next picnic. The outcome of this enthusiastic little gathering was the organization, the following year, of the 'Ashtabula County Society'.
     "From the very inception of the idea of organization, interest was spontaneous with all to whom it was mentioned, and it was very soon agreed that it was not enough to have a picnic once a year. So it was decided that they would try an old fashioned 'warm sugar party' (maple of course) and a committee was appointed to make arrangements for same. This initial event was a success beyond expectation and from that time till the present, the yearly program of the organization has included a summer picnic and a winter 'sugar-lick'.
     "The facilities at Euclid Beach Park won for that resort the place of holding the picnic parties. For several years the winter socials were held in the auditorium of the Spencerian College, and later in the Woodward Masonic Temple. Last winter the big event was held in the Winton Hotel Auditorium.
     "From the time of its organization, the society maintained a steady growth in membership and at each successive semi-annual gathering there was an increased attendance. These occasions were looked forward to with great interest by outsiders, as well as members, as it has been a custom for years to many Ashtabula County people to go to Cleveland to attend them. Here old friends meet who do not see each other from one picnic, or social, to another. The gatherings assume all the features and pleasures of a real family reunion and each meeting is in the hands of a live committee, who enliven the occasion with interesting programs. There is always a 'speaker of the day' and usually he is one of the members. It is not necessary to go outside of their own circle for orators, as the membership contains the names of numerous men and women who are gifted in that direction."

     Industrial Survey.—Steel works and rolling mills led in industrial activity in Ashtabula County during 1923, it was shown in reports filed by 216 industries there with the labor statistical bureau of the industrial relations department. The manufacture of agricultural implements ranked second, the making of automobiles and parts third, leather tanning and finishing fourth and ship and boat building fifth. Foundry and machine work was last in the group of six leading industries.
     An aggregate payroll of $3,127,393 was reported to the bureau, Chief Otto W. Brach stated in the compiled report to Herman R. Witter, industrial relations director. This sum was paid in the six industries alone and represented approximately half the wage distribution in all the 216 plants and establishments. The entire wage earnings in 1923 in Ashtabula County was $6,704,095, of which $521,251 went to managers and superintendents; $563,892 to bookkeepers, stenographers and office clerks.
     There were 6,068 male and 582 female wage earners on all the industries reported and of the former the largest number received between $20 and $25 a week, of which there were 1,254. Those whose pay was less than $15 in the male class numbered 174 and those who drew amounts in excess of $50 a week numbered 484. Salaries from $25 to $30 weekly were paid to 1,197 employes, and 1,030 received $30 to $35 weekly.
     Among the women employes of the 216 industries 164 received less than $12 a week and eight more than $30 weekly, the largest wage recorded in the female scale. There were 218 who received from $12 to $15 weekly, 121 to $20, 57 between $20 and $25 and 13 between $25 and $30.
     The peak of employment was reached in July when 6,488 persons were reported as employed and February was thev lowest with 5,105 persons employed.
     Construction trades found employment for 1,055 persons and in wages paid them there was $630,204 spent. An important industry in Ashtabula County is that of transportation by water, including stevedoring, and six firms reported $1,405,796 paid in wages to 1,100 persons.

     Personal Valuation.—The automobile has not driven "Old Dobbin" out of Ashtabula County. It has, however, greatly reduced his kind, and according to the number returned for taxation, there are 8,858 such animals in the county, outside of the cities and villages. The value of them is placed at $511,991.
     Other personal property owned in the townships of the county is as follows for 1924:
There are 30,482 head of cattle, valued at $1,245,175.
Sheep number 4,072, and are valued at $36,133.
The value of hogs is $36,406. There are 3,912 of them.
Poultry figures are: Number of fowls, 198,049; value, $156,886.
There are 169 mules, valued at $11,930.
Motor and other vehicles are valued at $938,185.
Household goods, $746,965.
Farm tools and machinery, $536,930.
Farm products, $44,090.
Pianos and musical instruments, $160,795.
Money in possession subject to draft, $942,078.
Other personal property, $69,635.
The complete list returned equals a valuation of $1,133,455. After the deduction allowed which amounts to $568,700, the balance for taxation is $6,654,740.

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